Pascal Picq

From Darwin to Lévi-Strauss

Pascal Picq is a senior lecturer in the Chair of Palaeoanthropology and Prehistory at the Collège de France and the author of such successful works as Au commencement était l’homme, Lucy et l’obscurantisme and, recently, L’Homme est-il un grand singe politique?

In 1992, the U.N. Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro, followed in June 2012 by Rio + 20. What happened to the planet in those intervening twenty years and a generation later? The world population rose by a third, biodiversity declined, global warming intensified and dozens of ethnic groups, cultures and languages disappeared. Welcome to the Anthropocene, the age shaped by Homo sapiens!
This book traces the major stages in the evolution of humankind and the planet since 1492, the date that marked the discovery of the American continent by Europeans and heralded the sixth great extinction in the history of life forms, putting an end to thousands of years of biological and cultural diversity. Five centuries later, we have assessed the consequences — but have we done anything about them?
This book pays homage to two great men who also happened to go to Rio long ago and who had the insight to warn against the catastrophic path humanity had taken: Charles Darwin and Claude Lévi-Strauss. Why did no one understand or pay attention to what they had to say?
Perhaps Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle and Lévi-Strauss’s Totem and Taboo are the two works that we should rediscover in order to save our planet from the catastrophic course that human ‘progress’ has set us on.

• The defence of biodiversity: a crucial struggle for Nature and humanity.
• A powerful appeal by an acclaimed scientist.